It is typical of the FF government to blame others rather than its own failures for the high cost of living in Fiji, says National Farmers Union general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry.
Mr Chaudhry was reacting to a comment from Agriculture Minister Mahendra Reddy blaming farmers for creating high inflation by selling their produce at high prices. (FT 10 Jan).
Mr Chaudhry said prices of farm produce, fresh fish etc reflected the high cost of living and farm inputs in Fiji. The rural community is struggling to survive in the face of high costs of just about everything.
“It is the policies of the Fiji First government which must be blamed for much of the inflation in Fiji today.
The current high cost of living has its origins in the 20% devaluation of the Fiji dollar by the Bainimarama administration in 2009. This resulted in significant across-the-board price increases and a corresponding loss in the purchasing power of the dollar, the effects of which are felt even today as our dollar continues its downward slide.
“This was followed by increases over the years in the cost of utilities- electricity, water, telecom and other fees, charges and levies for government services, all of which have added to inflationary pressures pushing up prices.
“The imposition of 9% Vat on basic food items in 2016 was a decision of the FF government.
“Significant increases in rents for State agricultural land, back-dated several years, has hit the farmers hard. This again is a FF govt decision.
“The astronomical increases in the cost of housing under this government is the direct result of serious policy deficit in an important segment of the economy as well as the lives of the Fijian families.
“The high cost of living in Fiji vis a vis rising income inequality points to FF government’s continuing insensitivity towards the needs and aspirations of our people,” Mr Chaudhry.